Monitoring is the most critical aspect of any studio setup; whether you’re building a home project studio or a top-of-the-line commercial facility, being able to accurately hear what’s happening in your mix is the foundation upon which everything else is built. All the fancy plugins and outboard gear in the world don’t mean a thing if you can’t hear what they’re doing with accuracy.
Over the last decade, I’ve worked in studios across the globe and on a wide variety of monitoring setups, ranging from an entry-level pair of monitors in my first home studio to ultra high-end soffit-mounted setups in major studios in LA and NYC. After mixing on just about all of the usual suspects when it comes to nearfield monitors, I’ve developed a particular love for those of revered Danish manufacturer Dynaudio, who’s BM6A MK1 speaker is legendary among mix and mastering engineers - I upgraded to a pair of BM6A’s in my personal studio some years ago and trust them more than any other monitors I’ve ever worked on (at least until now).
Suffice it to say that when we ran into the Dynaudio team at AES NYC and I saw that they had a brand new 3-way monitor on offer, I was extremely eager to give it a try. It turns out their new flagship LYD 48 isn’t just a worthy successor to their earlier models - it’s the best nearfield I’ve had the opportunity to mix on, bar none - and one Hip-Hop, Pop, and Electronic producers need to give a serious look.
Setup & First Impressions
The first thing that will catch your eye about Dynaudio’s LYD range - which is made up of the LYD 5, 7, 8, and 48 - is the optional white finish on the monitor’s front panel. Nearfield monitors are typically an extremely conservative affair as far as design goes, and I was especially surprised to see a high-end brand like Dynaudio stirring the waters - but I absolutely love the unorthodox design. For those who prefer a more traditional look, the entire LYD range is also available in black (but trust us, go with the white - they look phenomenal).
Color choices aside, there’s something else quite eye-catching about the LYD 48, especially if you’re used to earlier 2-way Dynaudio monitors like the BM5 or BM6: the 48’s feature a 3-way design, with a dedicated 8’’ woofer, 4’’ midrange driver, and a 1’’ tweeter, making them essentially a hybrid of a near and midfield monitor. As you’d expect from a flagship Dynaudio product, the monitors are extremely quiet when powered on - there’s absolutely no buzz, hum, or obvious amplification noise to be found, something you’ll commonly find on lower-end monitors. In another break with many of their prior designs and the rest of the LYD range, the LYD 48’s are designed for horizontal operation, not vertical.
Power wise, the LYD 48’s don’t disappoint; they’re driven by a 80W woofer, with another 50W each on tap for the midrange and tweeter, and a max SPL of 112dB - meaning they offer substantially more power than the entry-level LYD 5, and a good bit more than the LYD 8, the largest 2-way offering in the LYD family. The additional power on tap here was immediately apparent when I drove the monitors hard after their break in period - coming from the older 2-way BM6A, the LYD 48’s offer a substantial and noticeable boost in output volume and accuracy at high SPL’s.
Speaking of the break in period, it’s worth noting this is a real thing, not an internet rumor - Dynaudio drivers are meticulously designed and handcrafted, and they need a decent amount of time to really settle in and reach peak performance and accuracy. While they sound great out of the box, there is a definite and perceptible boost in quality as the monitors move past their first 50-100 hours of studio use.
The back panel of the LYD 48’s offers a host of DSP-assisted room correction options which help fine tune the monitors for your particular room and needs. Bass Extension essentially lets you trade low-frequency extension for overall output volume and vice versa; since very low frequencies require exponentially more power to produce than high frequencies, the Bass Extension switch allows the user to customize the low-frequency response according to their personal mixing tastes. The -10 Hz setting (which Dynaudio recommends when mixing at typical SPL levels of 70-85) extends the low frequency response of the speakers down to 40 Hz - a trade made possible by a reduction of 5 dB in the output volume of the speaker. The 0 (flat) setting preserves the LYD’s natural 50 Hz cutoff, while the +10 Hz setting moves the low frequency cutoff up to 60 Hz, adding an additional 5dB’s of output (above the flat setting) to the unit. In use, I found myself alternating between the -10 and 0 settings depending on the volume I was mixing at, with both settings demonstrating extremely accurate and reliable low end for mixing both Hip-Hop and Electronic records. Sound Balance offers a tilt filter, with settings for Bright (-1.5 dB @ 20 Hz, +1.5 dB @ 20 KHz), Neutral, and Dark (+1.5 dB @ 20 Hz, -1.5 dB @ 20 KHz) - allowing the user to customize the top end response according to the particular acoustics of their mix environment. Finally, in a nod to home and project studio producers and engineers, the LYD’s offer a Position switch, which can be used to account for speakers being placed close to surrounding walls; selecting the Wall position engages a series of filters designed to compensate for the boundary effect, and it made a noticeable difference in our studio when we placed the LYD 48’s close to our studio walls.
The LYD series of monitors has been designed to work hand-in-hand with Dynaudio’s new Meter app for iOS, which assists with room calibration and monitor placement to help you get the best out of your Dynaudio speakers. The Meter app, which works via Pink Noise calibration, will guide you in making the best adjustments to the aforementioned options for Bass Extension, Sound Balance, and Position - and it’s a nice touch that we hope more monitor manufacturers will take note of.
Taking Control of Your Intellectual Property with Opposition
We speak with Opposition about the finer details of rights management.
The last first impression that’s worth mentioning is actually one thing that didn’t catch our eye - a ‘power on’ LED/display on the front of the LYD 48 unit – because there isn’t one. The speakers feature an intelligent standby mode in addition to hard switching the power on/off on the back of the unit, and while I was skeptical at first, the feature works impressively well: there’s really no need to switch the speakers on and off after each use, which is a nice bonus and certainly a first for me. That being said, LYD users will need to take extra caution in the absence of a front-facing power indicator, as it’s not immediately clear if the speakers are switched on, and you’ll want to be careful not to accidentally send a loud signal through the monitors when you power on your studio equipment.
So how do the LYD 48’s sound? In one word: phenomenal. These are my new favorite nearfield monitors at any price range, and it’s worth noting you can spend far more in this category than the asking price here ($2400 for a pair). While I haven’t had a chance to try the smaller LYD options, I’m confident they will deliver an excellent listening experience at almost any price point – the LYD 5’s can be had for just $1200 for a pair.
For me there are two steps to evaluating any monitoring setup, regardless of whether I’m in a small home studio or large commercial facility: first, listen to a handful of records I know inside and out, and second, try mixing a few tunes and judge the results. Unsurprisingly, given my stellar prior experience with the BM6A’s, the Dynaudio LYD 48’s excelled on both counts.
Once I’d broken the LYD 48’s in with a good 100 hours of warmup, I sat down for a few listening sessions with records I’ve gotten to know extremely well over the years, having heard them across a wide range of setups and from playing them out at venues large and small. When listening to tracks like this on a new system, I’m looking for one thing specifically - do these monitors give me a clear idea of what this record will sound like out in the world? Do they give me a clear sense of what it will sound like on a huge system at a festival or in a large club? With nearfield monitors in particular, it’s often difficult to make subjective judgements like these, as the difference in power between your typical nearfield and a Funktion-One is vast. Despite the difference in power, the Dynaudio LYD 48’s give a phenomenally accurate picture of how well a tune is mixed, with a surprising amount of low end accuracy and oomph on Hip-Hop and Electronic tunes; even without a dedicated sub, the 48’s 3-way design produces a substantial amount of low end power, especially when using the -10 Hz Bass option.
In comparison to my BM6A’s, the LYD 48’s represent what feels like a generational leap forward; all of the midrange clarity I’ve come to associate with Dynaudio is still here, but now there’s a lot more to love in the highs and lows. While I love my BM6’s, if I have one gripe with them it’s that they can tend to overload at high SPL’s if you’re mixing with a lot of bass, and 808’s and really subby material aren’t always fully represented correctly - and both of these issues have been remedied quite well on the LYD’s. Similarly, the 48’s excel at creating a wide and accurate soundstage for each element of a mix from left to right, giving a better sense of how well a record is mixed spatially than any other nearfield I’ve heard to date (yes, even those ubiquitous horizontally-placed nearfields with wood paneling that cost over $1K more than these). As you’d expect from a high end studio monitor, the LYD 48’s can be unforgiving of a poor mix, but not in an overly harsh way like a pair of NS-10’s; these won’t make you work hard against an artificially poor sounding target, they’ll just make you acutely aware of any issues in your mix, particularly when it comes to the ever-so-critical midrange. If your vocal isn’t perfect, you’ll hear it on these.
Once I had a good idea of the LYD’s frequency balance and overall sound from my listening tests, it was time for the real moment of truth - mixing two records on them from start to finish and judging the results against my other recent mixes. Both records were pop tunes with a good bit of electronic elements in the mix, particularly on the choruses - I find tracks like these are the best test of any speaker setup, as you need to nail the both the midrange (vocals) and lows (808’s and synth bass) to really pull off a proper mix. On both tracks, the LYD’s were an absolute blast to mix on - not only did the final mixes turn out better than any previous ones I’ve done at my current studio, especially with regard to vocals - but they are some of the least fatiguing monitors I’ve ever mixed on, enabling longer mix sessions with more accurate results than what I’m used to.
In addition to the phenomenally accurate midrange, both the high and low end of the LYD 48’s feel substantially improved from my BM6A’s - and from just about every other pair of near and midfield’s I’ve monitored on before. EDM and Hip-Hop kicks came through extremely clearly, without being boomy or overhyped; similarly, heavy bass patches from a Moog and Juno were easy to mix on the LYD 48’s, and the monitors gave a highly accurate picture of how the kick and bass elements were interacting, which is always one of the most difficult aspects of an electronic mix to nail. The LYD’s - which as I mentioned earlier do an incredible job of creating a wide and accurate soundstage for a mix - make mixing with both Reverb and Delay substantially easier than I’m accustomed to; reverberant spaces are clearly defined and easy to judge and control, and Delay modulation and panning is easy to nail down. Similarly, the LYD 48’s do a superb job with handling dynamics and compression/limiting, which should be of special interest to any Electronic, Hip-Hop, or Pop producer; there are absolutely no surprises at the mastering stage with these monitors, as you can clearly hear the effect of compression and limiting as you’re mixing. Most importantly, both mixes I did on the LYD 48’s during our testing translated well in the real world, with no surprises as I tested them across everything from iPhone and MacBook speakers to larger systems. Dynaudio has done an absolutely stellar job of making a monitor that’s both fun and non-fatiguing to mix on while being exceptionally honest and accurate in the LYD 48’s.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In conclusion, we’d recommend the LYD 48’s without hesitation as the first near/midfield monitor of choice for any Hip-Hop, Electronic, or Pop producer looking to step up the quality of their mixes and productions. The 3-way design of the LYD 48’s is a true step forward for an already legendary brand, and in our testing it produced a exceptionally accurate mix experience with very little ear fatigue. Every bit of the famed Dynaudio midrange is here, except now there’s a lot more to love about both the low and high end thanks to the 3-way design, allowing the LYD 48’s to outperform several models of monitors that are nearly twice their price. The 48’s are my favorite nearfield monitor I’ve tried to date, and we suspect you’ll fall in love with them rather quickly as well.
- Powerful 3-way design; no subwoofer needed even for EDM & Hip-Hop.
- Phenomenal for mixing vocals and midrange elements.
- Some of the least fatiguing monitors we’ve ever heard.
- Honest but not artificially harsh; a pleasure to mix on.
- White finish looks stunning in any setup.
- Intelligent power-save mode is a nice touch.
- iOS calibration app and Wall compensation modes are great for home and project studios with less than ideal acoustic environments.
- A front-facing LED with power on/clip display would be useful.